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post #145
bio: katie
bio: victoria

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5/16/2005
11:49

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an unconscionable contract
Monday, May 16, 2005

› by victoria

Ladies and gentlemen, please offer your advice. I know there are web designers and web masters and graphic designers a-plenty here, so kindly offer me your ear and i will tell you this latest tale of woe (*sometimes I feel like I'm my own Lemony Snicket, but that's off the point):

Yesterday, Biff and I made the MUCHO-grande mistake of signing a contract with a young gentleman who attends my college, whom we will henceforth refer to as "Thomas." My advisor, whom I trust and respect and like very much, is also Thomas's advisor. He is starting an online business venture, which we will refer to as "Betelgeuse7", a website to help sell real estate online. He needed a graphic designer, so my advisor referred Thomas to me. It was all well and good in the first couple meetings. Thomas was trying to find a web designer as well, so I mentioned Biff's name in passing. He was interested. We discussed the project. Biff worked extensively to make 3 website templates--each one unique and really quite good--showing Thomas the breadth of his skills. We were nervous after showing him the templates. He said that he (thomas) wanted us to sign a contract to work for him as freelancers. We're all like "hmm, okay, maybe we'll get paid now and then we won't have to starve/not pay the rent." We met up with Thomas yesterday. He had drawn up the contracts himself. They were pretty confusing, but basically the gist was that he could terminate the contract at any time, and the money was scanty. I feel really bad asking him for more money, and as a libra I DETEST any kind of conflict or bad blood between people--I really, really do--but it hurts me to see Biff paid so little. And plus, I'm not trying to be rude, but we could seriously use the money now.

Okay, so here comes the financial remuneration rates (ha ha...gurk):

Biff is supposed to churn out this incredibly complex website/database that customizes itself to every customer, sets up individual accounts, remembers preferences, is dynamic, has advertising, etc. by himself by September 01, 2005.
He would be paid $200 (and I actually talked the guy into raising it to $200) for the website's completion, and $25/month after that until april, so $375 total.

I would be paid $100 on September 1, and I would be expected to chart out the marketing, design print advertisements, logos, stationary/letterheads, send out press releases, do media buying, etc. I would be paid $25/month after that for 7 months, so for me, $275 total.

So our total together would be: $650.

I remember from talking to Thomas that he said that the lowest bids he got from web designers/webmasters in Milwaukee was $1,200 or thereabouts.

I know that he's financing this business venture from his own pocket, so I feel bad asking him for more money. But at the same time, he went to Puerto Rico for a week=long vacation over spring break and he's going to Belgium in a week for almost a month, so if you've got money to travel that much, you're doing pretty darn well compared to us.

Our friend Jill looked at the contract and found it highly shady and she said she could probably draft us a new one that would be better.

I just wish that we could work it out somehow so that Biff gets paid $250 now, $250 when he completes the website, and then the $25/month after that. Even that seems more equitable. $250 would be like a gift from the GODS right now. I don't feel comfortable talking about how poor we are, but we are poor. Goddamit, we don't know how we're going to pay the rent this month. We can't buy food. We can't do shit.

What do you think we should do? We are waiting to do anything until tuesday night, when we will see Jill again and hopefully she will have some more legalese answers.


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